Be prepared

Toe-up socks, two at a time on magic loop. Heaven.

Toe-up socks, two at a time on magic loop. Heaven.

Sit a group of sock knitters down in a room and I can spend ages marveling at our different techniques and materials. Basically we are all producing a circular tube of knitted fabric but very rarely are two knitters working the same way. Some are devoted DPNs fans (either using 4 or 5 needles), some love the tiny 30cm circular needles. Then we have magic loop devotees and those who prefer using two small circular needles. Of all the techniques I have tried the latter is the only one that I really can't embrace. For the others each has their time and place as far as I'm concerned.

An on-the-go essential. Stripy sock on a tiny 30cm circular (Hiya Hiya)

An on-the-go essential. Stripy sock on a tiny 30cm circular (Hiya Hiya)

My go to favourite is a toe up sock on an 80cm magic loop needle. But there are times when a small circular needle is very handy. I do a lot of knitting at my kids sporting events and in that situation I often just need to be able to drop my knitting to attend to a particular crisis or applaud as necessary. For these times magic loop can be a bit too fiddly and more times than I care to remember, a piece of sporting kit has caught on a loop and merrily removed half the cable from my stitches. A small circular needle has much less potential for accidents and as long as you remember to push the sticthes down on the needle a bit you are usually safe from accidental unravelling.

As I do a lot of travel knitting DPNs are probably my least favourite way to work socks - simply because of the potential for loss. More times than I care to admit I have managed to lose a DPN down the side of a train seat, or I have searched my knitting bag in vain. Knowing full well that I put 4 DPNs in there, only to find that, inexplicably 1 has disappeared en route.

Whatever your preferred technique it is always good to know how to employ an alternative method should the need arise - if only to confuse the non-knitting 'Muggles'.

Love is... stripy socks

With Valentines Day fast approaching I decided to get a scoot on with some plain vanilla socks I had on the needles so that they could be pressed into service as a gift for my DH. We don't normally make a fuss on Valentines Day - we may make a special effort and cook a really nice meal with a bit of fizz to go with it, or a good bottle of wine but we don't normally go in for overpriced cards and flowers.

No second sock syndrome here...

No second sock syndrome here...

That being said he has been away from home (for work) a lot recently and I know that he likes to wear his handknit socks in his hotel room at the end of a long days travelling. On his last transatlantic flight, a British Airways steward even offered to buy his socks off him - much to the amusement of the fellow business class passengers.

It just so happened that this sock urge coincided with my recovery from the lurgy and so I completed these in record time following my tried-and-true formula for stripey socks: toe-up on 2.5mm needles, fish lips kiss heel and 1x1 rib cuff. For DH I generally use a 72st sock and for a bit of variety I worked the top of the foot and leg in a 3x1 rib (K3, p1). I like the stretchy fit it gives without breaking up the beautiful stripes too much.

Yarn: Stride sock yarn in colourway Robin Red Breast by The Knitting Swede

Just to make them a little bit more special I found a downloadable pdf design for a little wrapper - designed to be printed out and wrapped around your gift.

I found them via the Attic24 blog at a very cute creative blog called Buttons - do check it out as she has some great information there.

All ready for gifting...

All ready for gifting...

I don't normally do in for packaging my gifts very much, being something of a lazy gifter but I am really pleased with how these look. With a bit of luck he won't have to wait another year until the next pair.

Wyrt Socks

The first pattern launch of 2016 is a bit of a cheat really. The Wyrt Socks were originally released in November as a 4-part Mystery KAL on the Ravelry Solid Socks group. It was my first time writing a pattern for a mystery KAL and it was so much fun. Lots of folks in the group were new to toe-up socks and were really keen to try a new technique. There was lots of chatter and support and, I'm pleased to say lots of new and beautiful socks as a result.

Wyrt Socks and the tree roots that inspired them.

The pattern was inspired by winding tree roots on one of our favourite family walks in the Lake District. We spent a happy autumn day there not too long ago, finding and trying to identify fungi, picking up leaves and generally having a fun family potter about.

The socks themselves were knit using one of my favourite sock yarns - Pendle 4ply by Eden Cottage Yarns. As a Lancashire girl who grew up in sight of Pendle Hill, the name alone would be enough to entice me but Victoria's genius with colours and the firmly plied yarn with just a hint of halo makes this a perfect yarn choice.

The socks feature two bold, textured cables which wind along the front of the sock, offset by garter stitch panels. Garter stitch is surprisingly underused in sock patterns - and speaking personally - I love the added squish factor that it gives. So much so that I decided to depart from my usual heel treatment and opt for a garter stitch short row heel. Fun and quick to work I really like how the garter stitch gives an added stretch to what can, traditionally be a difficult heel type for some people.

To see the pattern on Ravelry and to check out some of the inspirational projects - please click here.

Here we are in October already and with #Socktober well and truly underway. Autumn is in full, blustery swing here in the UK today and it seems fitting that under my smart work work boots I am wearing my best handknit stripey socks to keep my feet warm.

I do hope you have your Socktober knitting planned out and on the needles but just in case you need a little extra enabling - fear not as I have a little round up of some fun goings on in the knitterly world.

First up we have the #gbsocksawaykal hosted by the lovely Isla, of the even more lovely Brit Yarns fame. Her KAL group on Ravelry is a really fun and chatty place to hang out. Even if you aren't knitting socks (and if not..why not??) there are plenty of great tips, patterns, chat and inspiration to get your sock knitting mojo going.

As well as the KAL, Isla is also running a competition jointly with Joy of the Knitting Goddess. You are challenged to come up with a new Britsock colourway (of up to 3-4 colours) which to you, perfectly sums up Britishness. There are some great entries already and I can't wait to see what is eventually chosen.

If you are all about the KALs still, Sara of Sara's Textured Crafts is hosting one too - with the emphasis firmly on relaxed fun and chatter over on her Ravelry group.

As for my own knitting. I am having a bit of a Finishing Festival. I have several pairs of self striping socks in various stages of completion which, to my shame, have languished for far too long in search of the new, the tempting and the deadline knitting. My boys are clamouring for their completed socks - each of them chose a shade of the West Yorkshire Spinners bird-inspired yarns some time ago.

To forestall the inevitable arguments I initially started working them two at a time - one from each skein. But I soon came to realise that this didn't make for the most portable of projects. This was compounded by my trying to work the heels with separate little balls of yarn (I pre-wound about 5g from each skein before starting) in an attempt to keep my nice even stripes on the front of the sock. Things got into a bit of a tangle and had to be set aside (read - shoved into a corner) until I had time to untangle and rearrange on separate needles. All is now going swimmingly however and I have high hopes of being able to present not 1 but 2 pairs of finished socks for #FOFriday this week.

How about you - do let me know what you are working on and how your Socktober is going.

Tour de Sock FO

Apologies for showing the same project twice in a row but I have been a little monogamous this week. Working on the Tour de Sock project left little time for anything else, but I am pleased to say that having cast on, on 1st June I finished at 10pm (GMT) on 4th June.

And very pleased I was too.

The legs were far longer than I normally knit (approx 8.5") and I begrudged every last row of the ribbing. The Y-heel turn I'm not crazy about and I don't think I would do again but overall they are a very handsome sock and I will wear them with pride.

At the time of writing there are 358 Wye projects in Ravelry with 87 finished. There are many others nearing completion though so it will be fun to cheer them on as they race to the finish.

The next stage starts on June 10th so I have time for a bit of non-sock knitting to give my hands a rest.

To use up some aran weight from stash - StashDash2014 - I am working on another Garter Ripple Squish blanket. We are going to be getting two new kittens tomorrow so in preparation (as well as storing all my yarn in sealable plastic bins) I am making a kitty blanket. Of course they will probably ignore it and make a beeline for my sock yarn blankie in progress, but it's worth a try and it helps me get towards my 5K Stash Dash target.

Sock heaven

Now, heaven knows I have no shortage of socks on my needles at the moment. I have a complicated toe-up design which is currently tying my brain in knots. I have a straightforward sample knit which is quite relaxing, but suffering ever-so-slightly from 'second sock syndrome'. I have a plain pair of grey socks for my father in law which are languishing in the WIP pile - plain, grey, huge - not very appealing -say no more.

And then, into my sock knitting doldrums drops this little beauty:

The very talented Sparkleduck has produced a wonderful rainbow yarn in her fabulous Socka base, which produces two colours per round on a sock. The colourway is Warm Rainbow (in case you were wondering).

I can be a little colour-shy sometimes but this yarn positively sang to me and implored me to take it home and knit I did:

I was dithering about whether to do an afterthought heel so as not to interrupt the stripes but in the end I plumped for my favourite Fish Lips Kiss Heel and I love the way the stripes work over the heel - great fun.

I was also a little worried about potential pooling and did consider a pattern designed to work with highly variegated yarn such as Hermione's Everyday socks but in the end I decided to just go with the flow. With 60st on 2.5mm needles the stripes worked up into a very pleasing sequence that is strangely hypnotic to knit.

I sock down, and 1 to go.